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Haiku Stairs hike victim is identified as Don Tiki singer Fritz Hasenpusch

By Gary T. Kubota

LAST UPDATED: 4:32 a.m. HST, Aug 7, 2012

The city has warning signs and a security guard to prevent people from hiking the popular but forbidden Haiku Stairs, known as the  “Stairway To Heaven,” on Windward Oahu.

But the security measures apparently haven’t stopped people from using it, including Don Tiki show singer and comedian Fritz Hasenpusch, who died while on a hike Sunday.

Hasenpusch, 62, a resident of Salem, Ore., who was on Oahu to help with singing and choreography for two upcoming shows, was climbing the steps with cast member Sherry Shaoling and had nearly reached the first landing early Sunday morning when they stopped to rest.

“He just kind of collapsed,” said his friend Kit Ebersbach, who heard about the death from the Hasenpusch family.

The Honolulu Medical Examiner’s office said Monday the death was due to a heart attack.

Ebersbach, the musical director and a partner in Don Tiki, a group that specializes in South Seas exotica, said Hasenpusch had just completed a great week of rehearsals.

“His family thinks if he had to die, it was really a great way to go,” Ebersbach said. “He wasn’t in any prolonged pain, and he was in a beautiful place.”

The group had begun the hike before sunrise to avoid being blocked by a security guard who came on duty later in the day, he said.

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